Christopher Clark, Lambda Legal's Midwest regional director and national pro bono director, spoke about LGBT rights and the current legal landscape at a June 8 talk sponsored by Out & Equal Chicagoland and CNA Insurance.
Clark discussed Lambda Legal's organizational commitment to impact litigation, court cases that can potentially have a broad impact on society. He gave the court case allowing for same-sex marriage in Iowa as an example, adding that it got people thinking about marriage equality more broadly and was "a game changing moment for our community."
Lambda Legal is also committed to working within existing legal-protection frameworks, Clark added. The organization, for example, litigated the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech in Indiana on the basis of federal Title VII protections which cover discrimination on the basis of gender. That is especially important important in a state like Indiana, where anti-discrimination protections are virtually nonexistent, he said.
"Work happens bit by bit, across the country," Clark said.
He also reported on work to minimize the application of criminal laws to HIV/AIDS transmission, noting that such laws are invariably "harsh" and long out of date. He said, "We're trying to inject them with real science."
Other areas of concern for Lambda Legal include helping to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which has come to be a lifeline for many previously uninsured LGBTs, and weighing in on legal cases involving transgender young persons seeking public-accommodations access at school.
"Our most vulnerable young people are being targeted as political punching bags," Clark said.